Manfredonia

Prehistoric finds in a medieval castle

There's no mistaking who founded Manfredonia, gateway to the Gargano. Manfred, son of Frederick II, set up his eponymous city in 1256, fortifying it with a stupendously preserved castle that now contains a museum of fascinating prehistoric finds. Manfredonia's developed as a bustling but low-key and noncommercial resort where the evening passeggiata is the highlight of the day.

The Castello Svevo-Aragonese is in excellent shape, with Manfred's rectangular Swabian fortress intact in the center, neatly surrounded by the later Angevin fortifications, and a 16th-century bastion tacked on to one corner. It houses the Museo (tel. +39-0884-587-838; www.archeopuglia.beniculturali.it), centered around 5th- and 4th-century BC Daunian funerary steles, semi-anthropomorphic gravestones, many with pointy proto-heads sticking up and arms etched on folded across the "belly." Most are incised with intricate designs as if wearing rich robes, and a few are carved with wonderfully figurative scenes: beak-nosed, ponytailed people in procession, men in sailboats with punk hairdos, or a man and woman bidding adieu as he departs for the afterlife. The castle and museum are open daily 8:30am to 1pm and 3:30 to 7pm (summers also Friday and Saturday evenings 8:30 to 11:30pm). It's closed the first and last Monday of the month. (Adm: €2.50) Free guided tours in English are available upon reservation at tel. +39-0338-221-7066.

Manfredonia has a fine beach, but that of its sister community Siponto just to the south is one of the best—and most crowded—stretches of sand in the Gargano.

Hotels in Manfredonia

Hotel Gargano – It's your typical 1970s beach hotel, with Black Watch–plaid carpets but an otherwise white-and-blue Mediterranean color scheme and 47 accommodations whose balconies overlook the round salt water pool and across the palm-lined street to the sea. The hotel hasn't seen a renovation for almost 30 years, so the lacquer is chipping along the modular furnishings' edges. There are wide-open lobby spaces and lots of terrace-edge seating to sip drinks. It's a ten-minute seaside stroll from the castle and passeggiata on Corso Manfredi, and the hotel restaurant for once isn't half bad.
Viale Beccarini 2, Manfredonia (FG); tel. +39-0884-587-621; www.hotelgargano.net

Where to eat in Manfredonia

Coppolarossa – The "Red Cap" is a mix of youthful, casual atmosphere, a slightly old-fashioned decor, and decidedly traditional cooking. Service by the red-vested waiters in shorts or jeans can be pretty perfunctory and off-handed, which is odd since without a printed menu they have to recite the dishes of the day. Be sure to load up at the do-it-yourself antipasto spread laden with seafood and vegetable goodies. Sample the house dish troccoli ai frutti di mare, or the orecchiette rucola e scampi (with arugula and shrimp; they'll do it up with tomato sauce if you're all fished out). Secondi include a veal bistecca or a large grigliata di pesce (a grill of giant prawns, local fishes, and tiny squid).
Via dei Celestini 13; tel. +39-0884-582-522; www.coppolarossa.com;No credit cards. Closed Mon and 10 days in late June

Tips & links

Useful links & resources

Tourist info:
The tourist office is upstairs at Corso Manfredi 26
tel. +39-0884-581-998, fax 0884-583-295).
Open Monday to Saturday 8:30am to 1:30pm.

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Tourist info:
The tourist office is upstairs at Corso Manfredi 26
tel. +39-0884-581-998, fax 0884-583-295).
Open Monday to Saturday 8:30am to 1:30pm.



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